A Jewish student posting virulently anti-Semitic comments at various internet forums, allegedly “to gauge how pervasive anti-Semitism” is online, has been busted by the progressive website Common Dreams (CD).
Investigative journalist Lance Tapley leaves few stones unturned in his report “The Double Identity of an ‘Anti-Semitic’ Commenter” except the identity of the culprit. “Let’s call the student Jason Beck”, Tapley says, protecting the perpetrator.
Beck, a Harvard graduate now a grad student at a midwestern university, created literally dozens of online personas to support his true objective: poisoning online discourse critical of Israel. So if evidence of anti-Semitism wasn’t there, he’d create it himself.
His posting on Common Dreams illustrates the susceptibility of website comment threads to massive manipulation.
And what was the goal of this pollution? Common Dreams says the hate speech undermined fundraising efforts, and was intended to do so.
The website’s executive director, Craig Brown, was personally appalled at the anti-Semitic comments–and had a financial motivation to block these commenters. One generous funder had told him, he said, referring to the stream of anti-Semitism, “I gave you five thousand dollars last year, but I’m not doing it again.”
“We’ve had hundreds of donors say similar things,” Brown added. “People are right to be offended by the anti-Semitism, and it has a serious impact on our reputation and our fundraising.” But when Common Dreams tried to block [Beck handles] DeShawn, HamBaconEggs, et al, they kept coming back.
Here’s how Beck jumpstarted the comment thread at the base of Max Blumenthal’s The Desert of Israeli Democracy on CD:
Just imagine how many millions of people would have been saved from the scourge of Judeo-imperialist wars and Jewish financial predations had Hitler actually finished the job.
After years and years of spewing classic vile Jew-hatred all over the internet fate caught up with him because he was using the university’s computers.
Interviewed by Common Dreams, the man, in his thirties, conceded he has a “psychological obsession” with trolling. A “tic”. So he came up with multiple personas, including a “JewishProgressive” who trails his other personas expressing his disgust at the viciousness he’s just penned, and then launches into a diatribe on the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism online. These lectures dominated, poisoned and diverted online discussions.
So why grant him another anonymous handle? Common Dreams says it feared that disclosing his identity could put his life in danger; contributors to hate sites he frequented might seek revenge, having discovered he was himself Jewish.
Described by the professor in charge of his academic unit as “the sweetest guy you can imagine,” the man claims he became “frustrated” by what he perceived as “the blurring of criticism [of] Israel and anti-Semitism”.
Beck adamantly claims he was a “lone-wolf” acting alone all these years but curiously, when Common Dreams confronted Beck after tracking him down at the university, Beck stated he had been “ill-advised”. Yes but ill-advised by whom?
Should any of this surprise us? Heck no! Millions have been invested in shutting down discussion of Israel online, and what better way to do it than close down progressive websites that host discussion of Israel.
When Common Dreams examined hundreds of posts in this ugly charade, the aim appeared clear-cut: to cast a deep shadow on, and drive support from, one of the largest and oldest progressive-news websites.
The next time you see radical profiles online, think who benefits. Because it’s sure not progressives. Ask yourself, is “Jason Beck” unique in his duplicity? It’s unlikely.
(Initially his article mistakenly claimed the troll “Jason Beck” a Harvard graduate, was currently a student at Harvard. He is not, nor is the professor in charge of Beck’s academic unit quoted in the article a Harvard professor. Apologies to Common Dreams, Lance Tapley, and our readers~A.R.)